Dancing Tapestries

Dancing Tapestries


    Darwin Civic Gardens, Darwin City

    September 24, 1989

    A community dance event presented by Brown’s Mart Community Dance program, with a meal and performance. This project was the culmination of two months of workshops. The aim was to get Darwin people of all ages to come together and be ‘actively’ involved, and to head towards a performance. A tremendous spirit of cooperation was achieved in a non-competitive atmosphere. The process was given a great deal of focus and was as important as the finished performance product.

    Mini Performances took place in September at Nungalinya College (19th), Mindil Beach Markets (21st), Tracey Lodge Seniors Home (22nd), and Palmerston Markets (22nd).


    The foundations of community, and later professional dance in the Northern Territory, were firmly laid by Maggi Phillips, who arrived in Darwin in 1974. In the rapidly changing and developing social era of post-Cyclone Tracy, Maggi (as Brown’s Mart Community Dance Officer) established Darwin Dance Mob. In 1980 She was appointed Director of Dance at Brown’s Mart and this led, in 1984 to the formation of Feats Unlimited, a professional performing Dance-in-Education company. Feats worked in Darwin and throughout the Northern Territory until 1987. On recommendations from Maggi, Sarah Calver was appointed as Dance Development Officer to provide performance projects with both focus and higher profile for local dance activity.

    In 1988, Beth Shelton, Maggi Phillips, Sarah Calver and Tim Newth headed a four-month community dance project: Dance on Darwin. Dancing Tapestries was funded by the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council, NT Government, Australian Association for Dance Education (NT) with assistance from Brown's Mart and was originally devised to employ Beth Shelton, to run a 10 week residency. Following Beth’s appointment as co-artistic Director of Dance-Works in Melbourne, Marita Smith assumed the position.

    Creative Personnel

    Sarah Calver: Choreographer, Teacher, Dancer
    Maggi Phillips: Teacher
    Marita Smith: Teacher, Choreographer


    Four Community Dance groups taught by Sarah Calver; 3-9 year olds, 9-15 years old (Palmerston), an adult group (roughly 15-30), and older adults group (45-74)
    Three schools. Sarah and Marita taught here: St Andrew Lutheran Primary School, St John’s Secondary College, Casuarina Secondary College
    Two Ballet Schools: Palmerston Ballet, Lilli Vita School of Ballet
    Folk Dance Enthusiast: Sue Ross
    Nungalinya College: Combined Church college for Aboriginal people
    No Strings Attached: singers who harmonize with musical accompaniment
    The Papua New Guinea Dancers


    Have You Ever
    Have you ever spread jam on ham?
    Have you ever put spice on rice?
    Have you ever taken pink icecream with bacon?
    You'll find that they're ever so nice (Barbara ireson)
    Choreography: Marita Smith and cast
    Music: Penguin Café Orchestra
    Performers: St Andrew Lutheran Primary School transition year one: Alana, Angela, Brodie, Dale, Daniel, Jared, Jim, Jordan, Josephine, Kara, Kylie, Louise, Mackinlee, Ned, Peter, Robyn, Sandra, Stephen, Travas
    Saturday group: Sonya McDermott, Amy, Lily Coates, Lawrence Gray, Stephanie, Virginia and Lily Hardy-Busler

    Stick to the Rhythm
    Derived from a traditional Papua New Guinea Stick Dance, the performers and Sarah used the rhythm of the dance to create and inspire other movements that they joined in a modern dance sequence. It is a dance showing both new and old styles using the stick as the main prop.
    Choreography: Sarah Calver and cast
    Music: Bobby McFerrin
    Performers: Jenny, Emma, Terry-Anne, Amy, Wendy, Jasmine, Adriana, Antoinette, Nicole and Tamara

    Sister Kate
    Choreography: Marita Smith
    Music: No Strings Attached – Alex and Richenda Bridge, Cathy Flint, Marianne Piercy, Jane Carpenter, Tony Suttor.
    Performers: Stephanie, Vanya, Kim, Jenny, Kirin, Nathalie (Lily Vita Students)

    Les Petites Sucettes
    Choreography: Marita Smith
    Music: On the Good Ship Lollypop – Shirley Temple
    Performers: Rachel, Bridget, Hannah, Katinka, Susannah, Nathalie, Rikkaine, Anna (Lily Vita Students)

    Las Sevillanas
    A Popular dance from Seville in Southern Spain.
    Music: Los Romeros
    Performers: Lisa, Danielle, Rebecca, Jenny, Michaela, Helen (Lily Vita Students) with Sarah Calver and Marita Smith

    Cante Jondo
    The arms and footwork which characterises the Flamenco style
    Music: Los Romeros
    Performer: Marita Smith

    Cha Cha
    The Cha Cha, an old time favourite, interwoven with modern dance movements
    Choreography: Sarah Calver and Cast
    Music: The London Palais Dance Orchestra
    Performers: Willis Gerrig, Elsie Thompson, Marie Porter, Barbara Fletcher, Jo Davis, Margaret Wight, Joy Soullier, Lila Prochazka, Audrey Gorring and Glad Morris

    Simple Pleasures
    Special thanks to the women of Nungalinya College who screen-printed the fabric used in this piece.
    Choreography: Marita Smith and Cast
    Music: Bobby McFerrin
    Performers: Bernice Franklin, Angela, Babe, Kim, Felicity, Leanne, Lena, Ingrid Ulpin, Sarah Calver, Morris Pitt, Frank Kraus, John, Alistair

    No Strings Attached
    Songs: Dilmano Dilmano, Blues Stay Away From Me
    Performers: No Strings Attached

    On The Fringe
    Choreography: Marita Smiths
    Music: Kilamankou Denkou
    Performers: Angela, Babe, Berenice Franklin, Marita, Sarah

    Folk Dance
    Zemir Atik – This is a slow and graceful Yeminite dance, and the words of the song say ‘We will return again to ancient tunes.’
    Music: Nigan Atic sung by No Strings Attached and accompanied by Brendon Williams playing whistle.
    Ceresna – A Macedonian wedding dance
    Boanopstekker – a social dance of the Netherlands
    Performers: Dance Mob Older Adults: Willis Gerrig, Elsie Thompson, Marie Porter, Barbara, Joy Soullier, Margaret Wight, Jo Davis, Lila Prochazka, Audrey Gorring, Glad Morris


    Dance Development Office: Sarah Calver

    [Under Brown’s Mart Community Arts – Executive Officer Ken Conway]

    Photographer unknown: (l-r) Audrey Gorring, Glad Morris.
    Photographer unknown: John, Frank Kraus, Morris Pitt, ?
    Photographer unknown: Marita Smith
    Photographer unknown: Berenice Franklin, ?, Marita Smith, ?, Sarah Calver

    Explore Further

    Participation Projects


    “All Darwin joined in the tapestry of dance, community dance event that brought together hoofers aged 4 – 77 in a wonderful weave of movement, sound, silks, and sticks for one night only. Despite the hard work, what came across to the audience was primarily the terrific fun everyone involved has had preparing for Tapestries … Above all it was evident in the faces of the performers as they laughed, and shared the joy of performance with each other, and the audience. Dancing tapestries has shown that Darwinites want to dance.”  June Kane Northern Territory News, September 25, 1989

    Tracks Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

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